WEEKEND SCIENCE PROJECTS

A Flaky Showdown




Purpose: Which brand of corn flakes stays crunchiest in liquid.

Hypothesis: Have your child formulate an hypothesis based on personal experience, product reputation and advertising. Which cereal does he or she predict will stay crunchiest longest?
Materials:
  • Kitchen scale calibrated holding a 2 quart container*
    *To calibrate, place the 2 quart container on top, and set the scale's weight to zero.
  • 4 or 5 different brands of corn flakes
  • Gallon size zip close bags (3 per brand of corn flakes)
  • Permanent marker
  • One 8 cup measure OR a 2 cup measure and a large bowl
  • Wire colander
  • 12 cups of water
  • Timer
If you have time, this scale can be purchased for under $10 at Amazon.com.
Procedure:
1. Calibrate the kitchen scale. Measure four ounces of the first brand of cereal, and place into a zip close bag labeled with the brand name. Measure two more four ounces portions and place into bags. Repeat this for all the brands of cereal, until you have three bags of cereal for each brand. (Note: Four ounces is more than you might think! It's more than two cups.)
2. Add 2 cups of water into one bag of cereal.
3. Wait 3 minutes.
4. If you are using an 8 cup measure - Place the colander over the measuring cup and drain the cereal, capturing the water in the cup. Let stand for 2 minutes, then discard the cereal and record how much water is in the measuring cup. This is the water that wasn't absorbed by the cereal.
If you are using a 2 cup measure and a large bowl - Place the colander over the large bowl and drain the cereal, capturing the water in the bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes, then discard the cereal. Pour the water into the measuring cup, and and record the result. This is the water that wasn't absorbed by the cereal.
5. Rinse the bowl, measuring cups and colander, and repeat the above procedure for all the bags of cereal.
6. Average your results for each sample. The cereal with the GREATEST average amount of water drained from the cereal stayed crunchy the longest. The cereal with the LEAST amount of water is the soggiest - the water was absorbed into the cereal!


Click here for pictures of the project.

Data and Chart:
Unabsorbed liquid
Brand Average (c.) Trial 1 (c.) Trial 2 (c.) Trial 3 (c.)
Food Lion 2.270 2 1/7 2 2/3 2
Great Value 1.931 2 1/8 2 1/3 1 1/3
Post 1.208 1 1/2 1 1 1/8
Kelloggs 1.417 1/2 2 3/8 1 3/8
Winn-Dixie 1.264 1 1/3 1 1/3 1 1/8
Note: For the sake of accuracy, the graph and chart automatically convert the average of each fraction into a decimal.
Click here to access the Excel spreadsheet and charts.
For Microsoft Works spreadsheets, save this file to your desktop, then open.


Conclusion: Use the results of your experiment to write your conclusion. Warning: I have used really fake data, and if you copy it, you will not get a good grade!

Application:
Ask your child how someone can use the results of this experiment. Think about the possibilities for advertising. What about product improvement? Are there instances in which someone would prefer the soggier cereal? Will your results change the way you shop? Did the most expensive cereal stay crunchy the longest? And finally, will this experiment encourage your child to eat breakfast more quickly?!

References:
NOTE: The first place a child should do research is in the trusty old encyclopedia and a school science book. These materials are designed to give basic, concise information.

BOOKS
Cerealizing America: The Unsweetened Story of American Breakfast Cereal
The Cereal Tycoon
Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made
Beyond the Bowl: The Cereal Lover's Ultimate Cookbook
Arthur and the Crunch Cereal Contest
Cereal Math (Grades K-2) Cereal Commercial Tapes Volume 1: Soggy Commercials

WEBSITES
NOTE: These are not children's websites, and while we found no objectionable content, we strongly suggest that you view them before, and then with your child.
The Boxtop is a quirky website all about cereal. "Grab your favorite box of cereal and pour yourself a bowl. Entire page will load long before your cereal turns soggy. Just add milk and enjoy!"
Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide will give your child all sorts of inspiration about project titles, advertising, and presentation.
The History of Cereal goes all the way back to Mr. Kellogg himself, and to C. W. Post, who invented Postum a cereal drink.
The official Kellogg's™ website is just as captivating and attractive as their cereal boxes.
In addition to information about their products, the General Mills website offers opportunities to give to charity through their Save a Lid to Save a Life breast cancer program and their popular Boxtops for Education program.

OTHER
Give your child an introduction to consumer science with a subscription to Consumer Reports.

For more hints on producing a great Science Fair project, join Detective ThinkMore at Super Science Fair Projects.




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DISCLAIMER: Although the experiments in this web-site are regarded as low hazard, author and publisher expressly disclaim all liability for any occurrence, including, but not limited to, damage, injury or death which might arise as consequences of the use of any experiment(s) listed or described here. Therefore, you assume all the liability and use these experiments at your own risk!

Copyright ©2004/2005 A. L. Dash & Sons